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Diablo 4’s character creator does just enough

You can customize your Barbarian and Necromancer beautifully, but only to a point

A character creation menu screen featuring the Rogue, in this case an olive-skinned female wearing dark body and face paint, from Diablo 4. Image: Blizzard Entertainment
Michael McWhertor , senior news editor, is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

Diablo 4 does character creation and customization better than any Diablo game to date, letting players design their class with beautiful details. A variety of hair styles, skin tones, colors, jewelry, and markings will let players create their own personal Barbarian, Necromancer, or Rogue — but only to a point.

The art direction of Diablo 4, which leans heavily on inspiration from medieval and Old Masters paintings, applies to character creation as well. While there are options for green-hued hairstyles and colorful body paint, custom characters in Diablo 4 look grounded and realistic — not like they’ve spawned from an episode of Monster Factory, or out of a Saints Row cutscene.

There are dozens of hair colors and skin tones, and in the preview build we played this weekend, four feminine and four masculine faces per class. (The game does not appear to actually use male/female descriptors for its characters, for what it’s worth.) That build also featured 10 unisex hair styles, including close-cropped pixie cuts, long flowing ponytails, tied-up dreadlocks, and tight, natural curls. Beyond that, there’s a lot of jewelry. A lot.

Makeup and body paint are thematically appropriate, and again, unisex. If you want a dark eyeshadow for your Barbarian dude, go for it. It looks good. If you want some smeary corpse paint for your Necro, that’s there too.

Diablo 4’s character customization screen for accessories, showing a variety of markings that are applied to a long-haired, bearded barbarian. Image: Blizzard Entertainment

What players won’t find is a wide variety of body types, at least for each particular class. The Barbarian is suitably beefy and ripped for their role among Diablo 4’s five classes. The Sorcerer/Sorceress class looks strong enough to lift some books and wands, but they’re nowhere near as lean and athletic-looking as the Rogue.

Body type, it turns out, is intentionally tied to class roles as part of the game’s fantasy, said Rod Fergusson, executive producer and head of the Diablo franchise at Blizzard Entertainment.

“Body type is something we consider to be part of the class fantasy,” Fergusson said in a roundtable interview, noting that the developer created a “‘dad bod’ Druid and an emaciated Necromancer” on purpose. “Those are parts of what make the class the class, in some respects, so having a dad bod Necro or an emaciated Druid didn’t really play into the class fantasy.

“We wanted to provide as much variety as possible in terms of there [being] a ton of different ethnicities and hair and markings and eye color, but there were certain things that made the class the class, and for Diablo 4 it was body type.”

A barbarian, necromancer, sorcerer, rogue, and druid gather around a small campfire in the class selection screen from Diablo 4. Image: Blizzard Entertainment

Body type and class archetypes are also tied into Diablo 4’s armor and gear design, and all of the other cosmetics that play into a class, Fergusson said. In other words, making armor that suits the bulk of a barbarian body would be challenging to scale down to a 90-pound version of the same class. “The high-level goal was to give the most high-level choice you had in a Diablo game,” Fergusson said. “We wanted it to be much more about your personalization [and] customization, but your barbarian [still] being a barbarian — it’s going to be muscular, not a waif.”

Diablo 4 reinforces the variety of character customization options by presenting its campfire of adventurers with random looks when players load the game. There’s no indication from the game itself that the Barbarian is supposed to be a white-haired dude from Mount Arreat, or that any other class need be locked into gender or ethnicity roles by default.

So while Diablo 4’s character creation options aren’t as deep as other modern role-playing games, these options can still produce great-looking, personalized characters while maintaining the dark, medieval look Blizzard is aiming for.

Diablo 4 is due out in 2023 on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.

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